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Suspected Group of Underage Mine Planters ‘Arrested’ in Kunduz

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(Last Updated On: June 16, 2017)

Afghan Intelligence Agency has arrested a suspected group of underage mine planters in northern Kunduz province.

The group consist of five members aged between 10 to 17, confessing they received insurgency training from the Taliban and were tasked for planting Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs) in Afghan police vehicles as exchange for money.

The leader of the group said he was trained and tasked to target Afghan security forces by placing mines in their vehicles.

“Mohammad Agha took me to Malemsher, where I got trained and then he asked me to lead five others fellows. I trained them and came back with mines,” said 17-year-old suspect Ahsan.

“I have placed a bomb in a Ranger, it exploded but the target has survived and it injured three others,” Ahsan added.

“I told Ahsan [the leader] that I don’t want to do this anymore, he said go and don’t do it, but when Ahsan was arrested he included me as well,” said another suspect Zamir.

Zamir said that under the name of Jihad he was encouraged to target government staff.

“I was told to kill even the dog of the government, they are all infidels and it is jihad,” Zamir said.

This comes as Kunduz has been a deadly battlefield  of the Taliban insurgents and government forces in last two years. More recently,  Qal-e-Zal and Imam Saheb districts of the province witnessed serious conflict between the two sides.

“The security forces have had tough time, battling in Ramandan, but fortunately, we have positive achievements,” said Provincial Governor’s Spokesman, Mahmood Danish.  

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Pakistan reopens Afghanistan border crossing held by Taliban

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

Pakistan on Monday reopened a major southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan that is currently under Taliban control on the Afghan side, Pakistani customs officials said, allowing over 100 trucks carrying goods to cross into Afghanistan.

The Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing, a key port for landlocked Afghanistan, had been closed by Pakistan for commercial traffic since fierce fighting for control of the crossing erupted between Taliban insurgents and Afghan security forces earlier this month, Reuters reported.

“Pakistan has opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman today and resumed Afghan Transit Trade which was suspended since the last one month,” Arif Kakar, a senior official of the Chaman border district, told Reuters.

He said it would remain open six days a week.

Two Pakistani customs officials, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that Spin Boldak and the border town of Wesh were still under Taliban control, and they did not know what arrangements were in place across the border or who was clearing the goods through customs.

They said Pakistani officials were under pressure by traders to let trucks pass through as the goods they were carrying would otherwise perish, Reuters reported.

Afghanistan’s interior and finance ministries, and the Taliban spokesman, did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees American forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that Spin Boldak was a “contested space” and the Afghan government was looking to regain control of it.

Relations between neighbours Afghanistan and Pakistan have taken a sharp downturn in recent weeks, particularly over repeated allegations by Kabul that Pakistan is backing the Taliban – a charge Islamabad denies, Reuters reported.

The Taliban has escalated its offensive since the United States announced in April that it would withdraw its troops by September, ending a 20-year foreign military presence.

Reeling from battlefield losses, Afghanistan’s military is overhauling its war strategy to concentrate forces around critical areas such as Kabul and other cities, and border crossings.

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U.S. issues new flight restrictions over Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it has imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan for U.S. airlines and other U.S. operators in response to the changing security environment.

The FAA, in an emergency order effective Sunday, said flights operating below 26,000 feet are prohibited in the Kabul Flight Information Region, which largely covers Afghanistan, unless operating in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport, citing the risk “posed by extremist/militant activity.”

The restrictions do not apply to U.S. military operations.

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US envoy says Taliban indifference to lives of Afghan civilians

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(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

Ross Wilson, Chargé d’ Affaires of the US Embassy in Kabul, said Monday that the Taliban is “reticence” to meaningful peace talks and that shows “their indifference toward Afghan civilian lives.”

Wilson said in a tweet: “Each day, this country suffers more death and destruction that could be stopped through good faith efforts at the negotiation table.”

This comes after the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afganistan (UNAMA) warned Monday Afghanistan could see the highest number of civilian deaths in more than a decade if the Taliban’s offensives are not stopped.

In its six-monthly report, released Monday, UNAMA also stated the pursuit of a military solution will only increase the suffering of the Afghan people and warned that Afghan troops and pro-government forces were responsible for a quarter of all civilian casualties.

According to the report, as many as 1,659 civilians were killed and another 3,254 wounded during the first half of 2021, a 47 percent increase compared with the same period last year, the UNAMA report said.

UNAMA blamed anti-government elements for 64 percent of civilian casualties — including some 40 percent caused by the Taliban and nearly nine percent by Daesh.

About 16 percent of casualties were caused by “undetermined” anti-government elements.

But Afghan troops and pro-government forces were responsible for 25 percent, it said.

UNAMA said about 11 percent of casualties were caused by “crossfire” and the responsible parties could not be determined.

According to UNAMA, women comprised 14 percent of all civilian casualties during this period, with a total of 727 women casualties recorded (219 killed and 508 injured), an increase of 82 percent compared with the first six months of last year.

Meanwhile, Ross Wilson stated that the UNAMA report is heartbreaking.

“The numbers in the UNAMA report are heartbreaking: 32% of the civilian casualties in the first six months of 2021 were children,” he said.

The US diplomat called on warring parties that “for the sake of the nation and the country’s future, Afghanistan needs a Ceasefire Now.”

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